Ansel Adams of the desert


I think it was John Szarkowski that pointed out that Ansel Adams’ photographs are not so much about the mountains and trees as about the weather.

If that is the case, who then is the Ansel Adams of the desert?

I’ve just returned from a week in Death Valley. I was in Joshua Tree earlier this year and in the Mojave as well. Again and again it occurred to me that the region is ripe with opportunity for serious photography.

The work I’m familiar with from the desert is usually made in the early or late hours of the day when the light slants in most dramatically. If in black and white the contrast is high, often with amazing clouds filling the sky. If in color it is in hyper-color–the intensity of the hues turned up from a little more than real to gaudy. Typically a wide angle lens is used to compose a picture that starts at its front edge at the foot of the tripod and then sweeps into the distance. Basically the work tries to mimic Adams’s posters.

That’s not the desert I have seen.

Who is the Ansel Adams of the desert?

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1 Comment

  1. How about Tom Till? He has shot most of his work with 4×5 cameras and is the best landscape photographer alive in my opinion. His work in the southwest deserts of the US, and more globally, are fantastic!

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